FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 15, 2019
Contact: Carl Ginsburg, firstname.lastname@example.org, 917.405.1060
Complaint Alleges Albany Medical Center is Violating Labor Provisions of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act
Albany, NY – The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) announced today it is filing a federal lawsuit against Albany Medical Center for violations regarding the forced labor provisions of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
The federal complaint cites the Philippine Recruitment Program that Albany Medical Center (AMC) began in 2002. In the last 17 years, AMC has recruited almost 600 nurses from the Philippines to work in Albany. As a stipulation of employment, each recruited nurse was required to sign a contract that contained clauses NYSNA contends are illegal, such as:
- A penalty of up to $20,000 if the recruited nurse resigned from AMC before a three year period ended.
- The threat that if the nurse breached the contract, AMC would report the nurse to federal immigration authorities, which could result in deportation proceedings.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act prohibits the use of threats of serious harm; being physical, non-physical, psychological or financial, to obtain labor or services of a person. It also prohibits abuse of the legal process to obtain labor or services of a person.
The clauses in the contract were discovered by a legal team at the New York State Nurses Association after registered nurses voted to become members of the union in 2018.
One example in the complaint reads:
[a] nurse wanted to resign because a friend from her church that worked as a nurse for a nursing home in Nanuet, New York, was earning $35 per hour, whereas she was only earning $28.50 per hour at AMC. She also had a four-year old child and a spouse with a disability, and had an aunt that lived in Nanuet who could assist with the care of the child. She, therefore, urgently wanted to resign and move to Nanuet and find work as a nurse there. She did not, however, because of fear of the repercussions of breaking her contract. Not only could she not afford the amount she would immediately need to pay to AMC, but at her orientation in the Philippines she was informed by [hospital executives] that if she broke her contract, she could be deported.
The federal lawsuit calls for the court to declare these clauses illegal and unenforceable. The federal complaint can be viewed here.
The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) represents more than 42,000 members in New York State. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses. For more information, please visit nysna.org.